Cape Town - A brace of goals in the first
quarter saw Great Britain beat the South African women’s hockey team 2-0 in the
World League Semi-Final tournament’s quarter-final match at Campo De Hockey De
Valencia in Valencia, Spain on Thursday.
In-form Great Britain striker Alex Danson
scored the first goal in the 12th minute and Kate Richardson-Walsh the second
from a rather fortuitous penalty corner (PC) deflection a minute later.
On Saturday, South Africa will face the
loser of the quarter-final between Germany and Spain. The time of the SA’s
playoff match on Saturday that will determine who plays for fifth place on
Sunday, will only be decided once all the quarter-finals are finished, and with
consideration to international television requirements.
For SA, a fifth-place finish is a must,
which would stand them in good stead should two of three semi-finalists in
Valencia - Argentina, Great Britain and Spain/Germany win their continental
championship. This would bring the fifth-placed team into the picture as a
qualifier for Rio. The other semi-finalists, China, lost their continental
championship to South Korea.
In the first minute, SA ‘keeper Sanani
Mangisa made a double save. SA were content to allow GB to make the play,
relying on stern defence and fast breakouts off turnovers.
In the ninth minute, SA captain Nicolene
Terblanche, Lilian du Plessis and Shelley Russell combined to set up an
opportunity down the right flank but the GB defence held firm. SA left-side
defender and birthday girl, Celia Evans (25), put in some solid tackles as GB
probed down the right.
Mangisa saved a deflection from Susannah
Townsend - and Russell, deep in defence, cleared the danger before, in the 12th
minute, a hit into the strike zone by Emily Maguire found Danson who spun to
free herself some space before picking a spot between the posts (1-0).
A minute later (13th), Richardson-Walsh
slapped the match’s PC with considerable power and SA suffered misfortune when
the ball deflected off first-wave defender Bernie Coston’s outstretched stick
into the underside of the crossbar and over the goalline (2-0).
Four minutes into the second of the four
15-minute chukkas, SA defender Lisa Deetlefs made a crucial block from a GB
shot while in the 22nd Coston showed her trademark pace down the left to earn a
PC from her cross. Line Malan had a powerful shot but it flew on the wrong side
of the left post.
The match was not short of physicality and
GB lost a soldier to the sin-bin after SA right-side defender Erin Hunter had
been mown down. A minute from half-time, a fluid move down the right channel
resulted in Ilse Davids finding space to get in a shot, which led to a second
PC for SA. Deetlefs’ sizzling slap brought a third PC but this time GB first
wave Lily Owsley got out of the starting blocks fast enough to block the shot.
The two early goals forced SA to chase the
game in the second half but at the same time they couldn’t allow GB to get
their winning margin out of sight.
The South Africans had four promising plays
in the first part of the third quarter with excellent chances for Jade Mayne
and Coston - who forced saves from GB keeper Maddie Hinch. Davids, as well as
Evans and Kelly Madsen, also put pressure on the defence. At the other end the
ever-dangerous Danson came close.
It had been a good 15 minutes for SA but
the score remained 2-0 to GB with 15 left. One minute in, SA striker Dirkie
Chamberlain smashed an absolute screamer that flew outside the post before
Owsley carved out a great chance for Danson.
Possession continued to change hands and
opportunities came and went but in the end GB emerged victorious.
South Africa: Sanani Mangisa, Lisa Deetlefs,
Nicole Walraven, Line Malan, Celia Evans, Nicolene Terblanche (capt), Shelley
Russell, Jade Mayne, Bernie Coston, Dirkie Chamberlain, Lilian du Plessis.
Rolling subs: Anelle van Deventer, Erin Hunter, Quanita Bobbs, Illse Davids,
Kelly Madsen, Candice Manuel, Tanya Britz.